Memory bookIf you are a caregiver for a senior, you may have observed that they have become more nostalgic with the passage of time. It is a common occurrence for most of us as we age. One way to help support your aging loved one’s interest in the past is to create a family history journal together. Capturing your family’s history for generations to come can be a great way to spend meaningful moments together.

Documenting a Family History

To help make it easier for you to get started, we’ve pulled together a list of questions you can ask your senior family member. Use a journal to document both the questions and their answers. While you probably know the answers to many of these questions, others may surprise you!

Childhood memories:

  • Where were you born?
  • What was the house you lived in like?
  • Where were your parents from?
  • How did your parents meet?
  • Where did your parents get married and in what year?
  • Do you know how your father proposed to your mother?
  • How many siblings did you have? Who was oldest? Youngest?
  • What school did you attend?
  • How far did you have to walk to school? (This is sure to generate some fun answers!)
  • Did you have any pets? What were their names?
  • What did your father do as an occupation?
  • Did your mother work outside the home?
  • What were your favorite subjects in school?
  • Did you participate in any clubs or sports?
  • Who was your favorite teacher?
  • Did you get in to trouble a lot? What was the worst trouble you were ever in?
  • What chores did you have around the house?
  • What holidays did you celebrate?
  • What foods were your favorites?
  • Did you have a favorite toy?
  • Did you take family vacations? What was your favorite?

Growing up:

  • At what age did you have your first date? Where did you go?
  • What music did you listen to?
  • How old were you when your family got their first television?
  • What television shows did you watch?
  • How did you meet your spouse?
  • Where did you go on your first date?
  • What was your wedding like?
  • What was your first car? How much did it cost? What was the price of gas?
  • Where was the first place you lived after high school?
  • What was your first job?
  • Did you go to college?
  • What did you study?

Life experiences:

  • What do you think are the biggest changes in the world from your childhood?
  • How has life become easier? More difficult?
  • What is the best advice you ever received?
  • What do you regret not doing?
  • Are there any life lessons you would like to share with younger loved ones?
  • How do you want friends and family to remember you?

Be sure to ask to see old photos during your interview. The photos may prompt additional stories as your loved one recognizes faces and relates events of the photos. You can ask to scan the photos so you can have a digital copy to share with family members. One final tip is to record your conversation with your senior loved one on video. Everybody has a story…preserving these stories is a nice addition to your family archives for future generations to enjoy.